After 9 months of hard work from staff and volunteers, the council`s Countrycare team has finished its hedgerow survey of Moreton, Fyfield and the Lavers. The data will be used to help raise awareness of the importance of hedgerows as a source of biodiversity.
In 2010 DEFRA launched a nationwide survey through which the Countrycare team obtained a grant to survey the parishes that lie within the arable, agricultural landscapes of West Essex. The density of the hedges in these areas has decreased in recent decades due to agricultural practices and urban development pressures.
Conducting the hedgerow survey will help in determining the distribution and condition of the hedges and identifying the presence of species rich hedgerows, isolated trees and any veteran trees.
The results showed that three in ten of the hedgerows surveyed fulfilled all the criteria listed by DEFRA for a hedgerow to be considered in favourable condition. Seven in ten hedgerows fulfilled ten out of the eleven criteria, with most hedgerows failing because they were found to be nutrient enriched.
In addition to raising awareness with local landowners, farmers and community groups of the importance of hedgerows as a source of biodiversity, the data will also be used as evidence for the Local Development Framework, which is looking to include green infrastructure. The surveys also contribute to achieving the aims of the Epping Forest Local Biodiversity Action Plan and the Essex Biodiversity Action Plan.
A full report on the hedgerow survey conducted and more information on biodiversity can be found on the Countrycare area of the Epping Forest District Council website.